Collin County DWI Lawyer
Our lawyers have handled hundreds of driving while intoxicated cases.
Everyone knows a DWI or drunk driving charge is bad news. If the shock and degradation of the arrest weren’t enough – the arrest is typically just the beginning. DWI charges are highly technical in nature that now include possible driver’s license suspensions, criminal charges, and even steep surcharges to keep your driver’s license after you have been convicted.
We take a team or “think-tank” approach in fighting drunk driving charges. DWI charges are beatable despite what anyone tells you. Breath and blood results are more common now than ever and those require working knowledge of scientific principles, the ability to see their weaknesses, and the ability to teach them to a jury.
DWI’s have a lot of moving parts and are not the type of case you want to face without experienced DWI legal counsel. At Rosenthal & Wadas we are very familiar Collin County DWI cases and how to defend them. We are also familiar with the concerns and fears people have when they have been arrested for DWI. Simply put, we understand. We work hard to defend your case and protect your freedoms.
Driving under the influence (DUI) in Texas is where a person under the age of 21 is operating a motor vehicle and has consumed any amount of alcohol, which is detectable. Just because a person is a minor, however, doesn’t mean they can’t be charged with DWI instead of DUI.
Other states may refer to a DUI as what we in Texas call DWI, but don’t let this distinction confuse you.
A DUI is a Class C Misdemeanor that is punishable by fine only. There is also the possibility for the minor arrested for DUI to have the arrest expunged from their record.
DWI Criminal Charges
Texas law convicts an individual of DWI if they operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. A person is intoxicated when one of the following circumstances exist:
- They lack normal mental or physical abilities due to ingestion of alcohol, drug, or other substance
- Their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at .08% or higher
Usually, if you get arrested for a crime, you don’t receive any penalty until there’s a conviction. When it comes to DWI, however, if an officer lawfully arrests you, there could be immediate administrative consequences. A DWI is actually two cases in one. The first is a civil action brought by The Department of Public Safety (DPS) that could impact your driver’s license through a suspension. Even if you don’t get convicted, you could still face a payment of fees. The second is the criminal action brought by the State of Texas that could impact your freedom through jail time or reporting probation.
On a typical first offense DWI in Collin County, first, a person’s driver’s license could be suspended from 90 to 180 days depending on the facts the case. If the license is suspended that person may be eligible for an occupational driver’s license that allows them to drive for up to 12 hours a day during the suspension period.
It permits you to drive to and from work, school, and other places necessary to complete household duties. To apply for an occupational license, there must be proof of the charged individual’s financial responsibilities and that an IID (ignition interlock device) was installed on the vehicle.
If it’s the first time someone gets arrested or stopped for DWI, and they fail to submit to or refuse a chemical test at the scene, the officer could confiscate that person’s license immediately. If the license gets taken away on the spot, a temporary permit will get issued that allows driving up to 15 days from the arrest date. It’s necessary to request a hearing within 15 days to contest any additional suspension of the license. If there’s no request for a hearing, the suspension will continue for an additional 90 days, starting on the 41st day after the arrest occurred.
Where a person’s blood alcohol concentration is below a .15, the penalty for first-time offenders is a fine from $0 to $2,000 and from 72 hours to 180 days in jail (which may be probated).
A first DWI conviction is generally considered a class B misdemeanor. However, if a person’s blood alcohol concentration is above a .15, they could get charged with a class A misdemeanor. The penalty is enhanced to a fine from $2,000 to $4,000 plus administrative fees. Additionally, first offenders could face 72 hours to 1 year in incarceration (again, which may be probated).
If a driver with a prior DWI gets arrested a second time, Texas considers it a class A misdemeanor. It comes with a fine up to $4,000 and anywhere from 30 days to one year in jail. There’s also the risk of license suspension of 180 days to two years. To retain the driver’s license, you will need to pay an annual surcharge fee of $1,500 to $2,000 every year for three years.
Upon sentencing, the accused must install an interlock device in their vehicle to detect the presence of any alcohol. If the device does detect alcohol, the car becomes temporarily disabled, and the court will issue an order for the offender to refrain from alcohol use entirely.
The third DWI offense is a third-degree felony. The individual charged could pay up to $10,000 in fines and spend between two and ten years in prison. More than three charges with a prior prison sentence could result in a second-degree felony, a maximum of $10,000 fines, and two to twenty years in prison. In situations where there are at least three DWI charges with two prior prison sentences, the punishment is an enhanced felony with 25 years to life in prison.
Despite the number of previous DWI charges, there’s often a probation period. The judge will use his or her discretion to determine the requirements of the probation. Those charged with DWI could face one or more of the following:
- Pay a portion of the fine and court costs
- Report to their probation officer
- Refrain from drinking any alcohol
- Participate in community service
- Don’t commit any other crimes
- Take an alcohol awareness class
- Undergo breath tests
- Don’t leave the county
For DWI crashes that result in bodily injury or death, the following charges apply:
- Intoxication Assault: In the event of severe bodily harm. Third-degree felony with up to a $10,000 fine and two to ten years in prison.
- Intoxication Manslaughter: In the event of death. Second-degree felony with a fine up to $10,000 and two to ten years behind bars.
- DWI with Child Passenger: A child, less than 15 years of age, is present in the car at the time of the DWI. State jail felony with a maximum of $10,000 in fines and between six months and two years in a state jail facility.
The punishment for DWI ranges depending on each specific case. It may be possible to arrange a plea agreement for a minimized sentence. It’s essential to review every option with a lawyer from [firm name] to determine the best course of action for you.
Other Alcohol-Related Charges
MINOR IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL
It is illegal for a minor to possess alcohol under Texas Alcohol and Beverage Code Section 106.05. This charge is also known as an “MIP” or Minor in Possession.
A Minor in Possession is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine.
Exceptions to the law are where minor is working in the course and scope of employment by a licensee or permittee; in the visible presence of an adult parent, guardian, or spouse or other adult whom has been committed by a court; or under the immediate supervision of a peace officer enforcing these laws.
If your child has been charged with a Minor in Possession, contact Rosenthal & Wadas today to make sure that this mistake doesn’t stay on their record.
SALE OF ALCOHOL TO MINORS
It is common for police and other law enforcement to conduct sting operations to see if convenience stores, restaurants and other establishments sell alcohol to minors.
A person commits the offense of sale of alcohol to minors if, with criminal negligence, they sell an alcoholic beverage to a minor.
It is a defense to prosecution where a minor falsely holds themselves out as being over the age of 21 with a fake driver’s license with a picture “consistent with the minor’s appearance,” purports to be over 21 and issued by a governmental agency.
Sale of alcohol to a minor is a Class A Misdemeanor, but just as importantly can carry serious immigration consequences if the accused is not a citizen of the United States.
BOATING WHILE INTOXICATED
Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) is mainly different in the respect that instead of a motor vehicle, the person is operating a boat. Otherwise the laws are virtually the same.
Slight differences in DWI and BWI law is enforcement officers don’t need probable cause to stop a boat for safety inspections. Another difference is it is illegal for a person to have an open-container of alcohol in a motor vehicle but it’s perfectly legal for passengers in a boat to consume alcohol.
- A BWI carries the same penalty as a DWI.
- A first conviction can result in a fine up to $2,000 and/or jail time up to 180 days.
- A second conviction can result in a fine up to $4,000 and/or jail time up to 1 year.
- A third conviction can result in a fine up to $10,000 and/or jail time of 2-10 years.
- If you are found boating while intoxicated on a vessel that has an engine over 50 horsepower (this includes boats and jet skis), your license will automatically be suspended.
COLLIN COUNTY INTOXICATION ASSAULT
Intoxication Assault is a driving while intoxicated charge with the added element someone received “serious bodily injury.” That person could be another driver, a pedestrian or even a passenger in the driver’s car.
Prosecuting intoxication assault is a difficult task. It is essentially trying a car-accident case on top of a DWI. Not only must the state prove intoxication pursuant to chapter 49 of the penal code (the defendant did not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties or had a blood/alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater), but the prosecutor must also show the serious bodily injury (normally the crash) was caused by reason of the intoxicated driver.
Common areas of contention in intoxication assault cases are the cause of the accident, the level of intoxication or the nature of the injury. Not all injuries qualify as “serious bodily injury.”
Intoxication assault is a 3rd degree felony carrying a punishment range between 2 and 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections.
Few situations are as heartbreaking as Intoxication Manslaughter. A crash where someone dies alters the lives of everyone involved permanently. In addition to the lifelong guilt associated with such an event – whether or not alcohol was even involved – intoxication manslaughter charges obviously carry a harsh sentence upon conviction as a 2nd Degree Felony carrying a sentence between 2 and 20 years.
Intoxication manslaughter occurs where a person is intoxicated and causes death to another by reason of intoxication by mistake or accident.
Like Intoxication Assault, the prosecution must prove three layers of what is known as “causation.” They must prove:
- 1. The defendant caused the accident
- 2. The intoxication caused defendant to cause the accident; and
- 3. Defendant’s actions caused the death of the person.
Often prosecutors get a blood or breath specimen which they think proves their case, but this is only the beginning of the analysis.
Defending intoxication manslaughter cases takes experienced representation from lawyers who not only understand the forensic sciences but the human elements of defending these cases as well.
COLLIN COUNTY DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
Under Texas Law you must provide a specimen of breath or blood upon a police officer’s request and that specimen must show an alcohol concentration of less than 0.08. If you provide a specimen and the result is above a 0.08 then your license can be suspended up to 90 days for a 1st DWI arrest. If you refuse to provide a specimen, your license may be suspended for up to 180 days.
What police won’t tell you is (1) you have the ability to fight their original decision to ask for a specimen because police cannot merely ask at their leisure; and (2) you are almost always going to be entitled to an “occupational driver’s license” which should allow you to travel and carry-on with your daily business.
After a DWI arrest, you only have 15 days to request a formal review hearing to protect your driving privileges from the automatic suspension that will occur if your attorney does not demand a hearing to contest the suspension. In every case, the criminal defense attorney should request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing to contest the revocation because no downside exists to invoking this right.
ADMINISTRATIVE LICENSE REVOCATION
The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) occurs after a DWI arrest when the individual arrested either refuses to submit to a chemical test, or takes the breath test but blows over the legal limit of 0.08 BAC. In order to start the process, the arresting officer then takes the driver’s Texas driver’s license and issues a temporary driving permit.
After the arrest, the driver has only 15 days to request a hearing. If the driver fails to request a hearing to contest the ALR then the suspension takes effect on the 40th day following the arrest.
Before the driver can renew his driver’s license or be issued a driver’s license after the ALR process, the driver must pay a $125 reinstatement fee.
Even men or women arrested for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) can be subjected to the ALR process if they refuse to take a chemical test or blow over the legal limit of 0.08 BAC.
WHAT IS AN ALR HEARING AND DOES IT AFFECT MY DWI CASE?
Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing is a separate case that arises out of a DWI prosecution. Most people arrested for DWIs are surprised to learn that they have not one, but two cases after their arrest: one, a criminal case against you (DWI), and the second (ALR) is a hearing against your license.
The ALR hearing gives you the opportunity to contest the seizure or suspension of your license based upon failing the breath or blood test or refusing to take them when asked. Keep in mind, you have only 15 days to request your hearing with the state after you have been arrested, otherwise your license will go into automatic suspension.
What happens at the ALR hearing?
By requesting an ALR hearing, you force the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to prove its case against you. The DPS must prove that the police officer who stopped and arrested you did so with either reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If they cannot prove either, you win by default and your license will not be suspended.
In order to suspend your license, DPS must prove the following depending upon the facts of your case:
Refusal: If you refused to submit to breath/blood testing, DPS must prove the following at an ALR hearing:
- Reasonable suspicion or probable cause existed to stop or arrest you
- Probable cause existed that you were operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated
- You were placed under arrest and properly requested to submit to breath/blood testing
- You refused the test upon proper request of the officer
Failure: If you failed your breath and/or blood test, DPS must prove both of the points below:
- That you had an alcohol concentration of .08 or more while operating a motor vehicle in a public place and at the time of testing
- That there was probable cause to arrest or reasonable suspicion to stop you
If the police officer involved shows up your ALR it gives your DWI lawyer an opportunity to question the officers involved and lock them in to their testimony. If your case ends up going to trial, then your attorney can use a transcript of the officer’s testimony against him during your criminal trial.
What happens if you lose your ALR hearing?
Without any prior alcohol or drug related contacts against the accused driver during the previous 10-year period, your license will be suspended for 90 days if your chemical test result is over a 0.08% or 180 days if you refused a chemical test. If you have a prior alcohol or drug contact within ten years, your license will be suspended for one year if your chemical test is over 0.08% or 2 years if you refuse a chemical test.
Does the outcome of your ALR Hearing affect your DWI criminal case?
The outcome of your ALR does not affect your DWI criminal case. Your criminal DWI case will proceed, regardless of the outcome of your ALR hearing. While many criminal cases in Texas offer the opportunity for preferred adjudication, DWI is not one of them.
Contact a Collin County DWI Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with a DWI offense, you need the representation of an experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney. Contact Rosenthal & Wadas at 972-369- 0577 to schedule a free consultation. Rosenthal & Wadas is the largest criminal defense firm in Collin County and has two Criminal Defense Board Certified partners. Contacting a qualified DWI attorney in your area is an important part of getting your license back and staying out of jail.